Touching experimental techno.
Given the direction Modeselektor took following the reboot of Seilscheibenpfeiler, it's no surprise that Life Without Friction skews to the trackier side of Mannerfelt's skill set. That said, it contains a heartbreaking piece in "Lucid In The Sky," one of the most affecting tracks Mannerfelt has produced. It's dominated by an exponentially decelerating trigger that makes a kick and synth pairing drop and bounce like a ball falling in reverse. Its remorseless repetition borders on the sadistic, yet the synth begins feeling unbelievably sad and lonely over time, an effect heightened by the bittersweet strings soaring in the background. There are just a handful of elements in the track, but Mannerfelt manages to give it the weight of a dirge.
"Un-Air" is another lesson in economy, with Mannerfelt taking a welcome detour into twitchy modular drum textures that recall mid-'90s Cologne-school minimal. Again, all we have is weird drum computers and a pad, but the result is full of personality. The title track is maximalist in comparison, especially thanks to its grime-adjacent lead line, which takes on a grand sense of scale by landing in a sonic uncanny valley between strings and brass. Given the consistently high quality of Mannerfelt's output, it wouldn't be fair to call Life Without Friction a standout. Business as usual rarely sounds this good.